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Tofino Surfing: The Frontside Cutback

by Pete Devries, Tofino


The frontside cutback is a move that is used by surfers of all skill levels.

The cutback allows you to use the rail of your board, and brings you back to the source of the wave where you can generate more speed for your next hit.

Like every other move in surfing the frontside cutback starts with speed. By entering the turn with speed you will be able to lean on your rail harder adding more spray, and style to the turn. Pump down the line looking for a section that has a nicely sloping shoulder to turn on. Start your bottom turn as soon as you reach the flats, and drive up the wave face at a 40 to 60 degree angle. When you reach the middle of the wave face bend your knees and shift your weight from your toe side rail to your heel side rail to initiate the cutback. Twist your upper body in the direction you are turning, and extend your leading arm towards the water to keep a low centre of gravity. Most of your pressure should be applied to your back foot while your front foot guides your board through the turn. Halfway through the turn your leading arm should be touching the wave face. This keeps you low to your board as well as providing a point for you to pivot around. Lean on your rail as hard as you can during this part of the turn to create a tight powerful arc. Be sure to watch the tip of your board as you turn because you want it to fit into the transition of the wave perfectly in order to maximize speed. As your board turns back towards the white wash you want to finish the turn. Do this by straightening out you back leg, and centering your weight over your fully bent front leg. This will add snap and style to the turn and also keep you low to your board. Your board will finish with the nose pointing straight back towards the white water. Stay low and focused on the front rail of your board, and how it fits into the transition of the wave. Now that the turn is finished turn your board back towards the open face of the wave by pressing on your back foot. Watch the transition of the wave as you pivot so you don't nosedive, and go straight into your next bottom turn. The only way to learn cutbacks is to go surfing so get off your computer and get out there.

Check out Sepp Bruhwiler, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and most importantly Taylor Knox because he has the best cutback in the business.

Frontside Cutback Tips:

  1. Start your bottom turn with lots of speed.
  2. Put your leading arm in the water, and use it as a pivot point. Finish the turn with your back leg straight and your weight over a bent front leg.

Peter Devries grew up on a surfboard in Tofino and has been in competitions since he was 14. You can email him at deepfreezy@hotmail.com

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